Today on Twitter, the hashtag #MakeSolo2Happen is trending, thanks in large part to the efforts of those at Star Wars News Net for rallying the community together all on one day.
It’s a pretty impressive thing for the hashtag to be trending on this random May day, and it just further goes to show that the film was far from the disaster that many like to make it out to be. And so I am firmly in support of making Solo 2 happen, in some way, shape, or form.
I would love to see Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Erin Kellyman, and others (such as a certain former-Sith-turned-crime-boss) return for further stories. Those people all were great in their respective roles, and the film was a very enjoyable ride. The story was fairly self-contained (as it stands on its own without requiring a sequel), but it nonetheless sets up plenty of future stories to be told. As the film is ending, Han and Chewie are heading off in the Millennium Falcon to find out about the jobs Jabba the Hutt has. The stories are just beginning.
Due to the box office of Solo, I’m a bit doubtful that Disney would ever promote a sequel – but with Disney+ coming later this year, which is a massive focus for the company, it seems like too logical of a fit. Disney and Lucasfilm could develop a series for Disney+ that follows the further exploits of Han, Chewie, Lando, Qi’ra, Enfys Nest, Maul, etc., and add that to their lineup of Star Wars live-action shows. It seems to me to be such an obvious fit that I absolutley think it’d be foolish not to do it. And it won’t be anything new for Ron Howard to develop a series for Disney+, as he’s currently doing the same thing with the Willow series.
Of course, people – and perhaps even some at Disney – will be quick to point out that the film wasn’t financially successful. That’s true. It made just under $400 at the global box office, and it was the first time that a Star Wars film could be considered anything but a success box office wise. So without a doubt, there are reasons for that, and it seems that it has resulted in Disney slowing down Star Wars projects and (at least as far as we know) going away from the standalone film format. But I think that might be an overreaction – because there are plenty of other factors that I think are even more probable reasons for the disappointment that make concluding the standalone films don’t work a reach.
The biggest issue, in my opinion, was the release date. That’s ironic, because Star Wars was one of the most important and influential films and franchise when it came to establishing the Memorial Day box office, but in recent years the franchise has done similar with the Christmas box office. The Force Awakens was originally slated for a May release in 2015, but J.J. Abrams got it pushed back, and that became the pattern moving forward. The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi all released in December, and all three of them topped over $1 billion. And then Solo came out in May. There were a couple of problems with this. First of all, a Star Wars film had just come out five months before, to big box office success and great critical acclaim, but then just five months later there was another film released that didn’t really relate to the previous one. Disney has talked about wanting to make Star Wars films a big event, and putting two of them within five months, while great for the die-hard fans, isn’t as great for the rest of the audiences.
But it wasn’t just the fact that there were two in five months – to that extent, it could just have been viewed as an experiment to see if it would work. It didn’t, and so the logical thing to conclude should have been more about the timing than the project itself. But more than that, there was every logical reason in the world to push Solo back to December anyway. The first reason was simply based on what was stated above: Star Wars films have done very well in December in recent years! The second reason, though, came about when the production ran into problems and Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired. If some reports that have come out were true (and based on the final product), it seems this change was warranted – but nonetheless it put things behind schedule, as Ron Howard took over. Reports have even suggested that Kathleen Kennedy wanted Solo pushed back to December, but that Disney and Bob Iger wouldn’t do it. So perhaps things were rushed a bit, despite Ron Howard’s heroic effort in taking on production midway through.
And third, a May release meant that Solo kind of just got lost at the summer box office. Infinity War was sure to be a massive event (and Solo was never expected to compete with that), but also other releases like Deadpool 2, Incredibles 2, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and Ant-Man and the Wasp all came out in the summer box office. Casual movie-goers weren’t going to go to all of those. So some of those films were going to suffer, and Solo happened to be one of them. Plus, the marketing for Solo was quite strange and ineffective, and I can’t help but wonder whether that was a combination of it undergoing changes midway through and it being given less attention than Infinity War. But in December, Solo would have been competing against a smaller market – namely, Aquaman and Mary Poppins Returns. The latter was Disney’s big holiday release, but ironically it grossed less than Solo did.
None of this is intended to say that Solo was some sort of massive success at the box office, because it wasn’t. But I also think we have to take a more comprehensive approach. The film was well-received amongst fans and those who did see the movie, and it seems that Disney internally has a similar mindset. And while I think there are lessons to be learned about Solo – namely, that perhaps two films in five months isn’t great, and that December is the ideal release time – I think there can easily be overreactions to that. For instance, Disney’s decision to move Star Wars films to every other year seems like a bit of an extreme reaction to two films in five months. Or Disney’s apparent decision to (at least for now) move away from the standalone films seems like a bit of a misreading of what contributed to Solo‘s disappointing release.
So here’s hoping that Disney recognizes that there are other factors that contributed to that box office, which would open the door to telling more stories about these characters, featuring this terrific cast, who turned in a very fun and enjoyable movie that is totally deserving of being applauded as a good Star Wars movie.